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Montague board: Time running out for Cumberland Farms deal this year

May ask town for more money to stabilize building for winter

TURNERS FALLS — The town may be asked to spend money on the dilapidated former Cumberland Farms building after all.

Town Meeting members in May approved $32,000 in spending to clean and repair the Avenue A building, with the understanding that it was a safety net for a deal in the works with a local nonprofit to take the building in exchange for doing the work ordered by the building inspector at no cost to taxpayers.

Montague Community Cable Inc., the parent company of Montague Community Television, proposed to take the building as studio and office space for MCTV and fellow nonprofits Turners Falls RiverCulture and the Montague Business Association.

MCCI board member Kristi Bodin said Tuesday the group is running out of time to reach a deal to begin work this year.

“We’re considering some very drastic requests to the (Board of Selectmen) at this point,” Bodin said.

At least, Bodin said the board will probably ask the Board of Selectmen to spend some of the $32,000 to stabilize the building before winter.

Bodin said after the meeting the roof is not likely to survive the winter and the loss of the roof may mean the loss of the building.

“We can’t do work unless we own the building,” Bodin said. “It’s really getting down to the wire.”

The Economic Development and Industrial Corp., a quasi-town body designed to handle real estate without the usual restrictions on municipalities, this year gained title to the property and in August agreed to sell it to MCCI, with the details to be negotiated.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the EDIC board discussed concerns raised by member Roy Rosenblatt over the board’s authority to transfer the property.

Citing passages in state law and the town’s 1999 economic development plan, Rosenblatt said the body can only operate in areas zoned industrial, transfer properties for industrial use, and requires an active economic development plan, all of which he said could be challenges.

Member Donald Valley agreed there is a conflict in the laws and regulations but said it should not prevent the board from moving ahead.

“I see a conflict, but I see a comfort zone for me,” Valley said.

Valley said he would be more concerned about the legal footing if he felt there was likely to be any concern the board was engaged in shady dealings.

The board voted unanimously to request an opinion from the town lawyer through the Board of Selectmen, before going into closed session to discuss the sale.

Bodin said MCCI had hoped to start work in September and move in by October or November.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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